CLARION LEDGER: Skills Foundation Column
Diesel Equipment Skills = High Pay, Great Career
In his eight years, Governor Phil Bryant has effectively touted strategic workforce training as a key to job creation and higher household incomes. He often tells of being the son of a diesel mechanic, a once hardscrabble, but noble, profession that has evolved into a high-tech skill requiring knowledge of complex, computer-driven engines changing at a rapid pace.
Governor Bryant has humorously said many times Mississippi businesses need more skilled technicians, engineers, and computer scientists, not philosophers.
It’s true. More plain talk like this is needed. Today, some educational programs match up with job demands, but many don’t. Mississippi’s pace
of economic growth is inextricably tied to increasing the number of people trained with skills for jobs that actually exist.
Take the Governor’s example of diesel technicians. After 14 months at the community college, starting salaries for graduates can be double the private
sector average and can quickly escalate to six figure salaries with experience. On Highway 49 just south of Jackson, it’s hard to miss the heavy
equipment and trucking corridor that continues to grow and invest, whether it be John Deere, Caterpillar or Freightliner trucks
An army of trained individuals is required by these companies and others to keep the economy moving. Just last month, the Mississippi State Workforce
Investment Board reported that demand exists for over 200 new diesel equipment specialists every year while only about 70 per year are graduating
from these programs. Similar gaps exist in other high-demand skilled trades. These skills in information technology, manufacturing, energy, transportation
and healthcare can all be found on Mississippi’s Virtual Guidance Counselor, getonthegridms.com, so students can find one fitting for them